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Season of Learning

One of the things that farmers end up doing a lot of in the winter is focusing on their learning.  Many types of farming are less intensively demanding during the winter.  Raising pasture raised livestock tends to not give as much relief in the winter, as say, a carrot farmer.  However, it is a different type of work and does give more time to focus on learning.  Not by chance, this is also when a lot of conferences are held.  This year I (Jeff) went to a great farming conference in Iowa put on by the Practical Farmers of Iowa. They are an incredible organization of a few thousand conservation and forward thinking farmers,  They are diverse in their methods and specifics -- but together in their beliefs that farming can be a regenerative and restorative practice rather than one that simply takes from the land.  

I attended an in-depth two day class on scaling up pastured poultry production and then attended several shorter sessions ranging from good financial record keeping on the farm, raising cover crops for grazing animals, and how to build relationships with landowners for leasing land.   All of these sessions provided me with nuggets of information, that will ultimately lead to our farm running more sustainably and profitably in the future.

One of my favorite aspects of the conference was a very strange phenomenon that happened.  I was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of other crazy people.  Every single one of us at the conference was used to being the weird guy in the county that farms strangely.  Suddenly, all these weird farmers were in the same building together and it was a great feeling.  It made for many conversations that happened in-between sessions.  These in-between personal conversations were often as informative as listening to the experts that were the official speakers.

I sure wish Kansas had a similar organization to the Practical Farmers of Iowa.  All of our farming organizations, even small and beginning farmer organizations are very big-ag centric and have very little relation to our burgeoning, but small in scale farm.  


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